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Take Care of Your Spare Tire

That all too familiar bump and hissing associated with a flat tire is a dreaded sound for just about any driver. On top of that, flat tires never seem to come at the right time and can ruin your day in minutes. What’s worse, though, is realizing that your spare tire is in poor condition, rendering it useless in getting you to the tire repair shop. Though spare tires require slightly less maintenance than your everyday road tires, they do require occasional care. Learn about the different kinds of spares and how you can take care of yours.

Spare tires come in three different varieties. Most cars are equipped with either of these varieties including Full-Size Matching, Full-Size Non-matching, or temporary.

  • Full size – Matching is essentially the fifth tire for your car. It is usually the exact same size and style as the other four tires on your vehicle and is rotated along with the others. The only drawback to this kind of spare is finding the space to store this full-size tire. Pro Tip: If your vehicle has a Full size – matching spare, be sure to buy five when purchasing new tires. Why? If you purchase only four and keep the old spare, when it’s time to rotate the tires, they won’t be the same size or condition as the others, which may put undue stress on the suspension system or cause other troubles.
  • Full size – Non-matching tires may be full size, but they are not exactly the same as the other four tires that reside on the vehicle. This tire should only be used in the event that a spare is needed and should not be rotated in with the others.
  • Temporary Spares, also known as the “donut,” come in full size or compact. Both are manufactured with a low tread depth making them vulnerable to road hazards and projectiles. These are intended only for emergencies, should not be driven for more than 70 miles, and should not travel at speeds that exceed 50 MPH.

How to Care for Your Spare

Hopefully, your spare tire will just be something that sits in your trunk and goes along for the ride, but in the event that you need it, it should be in top shape so that it’s ready to get you to where you need to go for repair. To keep your spare in good condition, follow these tips:

  • Check the Pressure – Just like your other tires, your spare’s pressure will need to be monitored. Temperature changes and time can affect the level of air in your tire. Before driving, be sure the tire is inflated to the recommended level as set by the manufacturer.
  • Rotate often – Every 6,000 – 8,000 miles, your tires should be rotated and that includes the spare (applies to full-size tires, only). Usually, the spare is rotated into the right rear position and the old one becomes the spare. Consult with your owner’s manual to be sure this applies to your vehicle.
  • Check the Tread – Your ability to control your vehicle depends on the tires’ traction on the road, especially in wet conditions. Treads help to direct water between the tire and the road to prevent sliding. While spare tires don’t typically wear at the same rate as the other tires, they will degrade over time. You can check the depth of your tire’s tread by looking for the wear indicator or take the penny test.
  • Check for Recalls – On occasion tire manufacturers may recall certain tires due to manufacturing errors or other defects. You can check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to see if your tires have been recalled.

Driving On a Spare

vehicle spare tireIf you have a flat tire and your spare is in otherwise good condition, you may proceed with removing the bad tire and install the spare. Before driving, check to make sure it’s properly inflated and that there aren’t any damages such as punctures on treads or sidewalls. Stay in the right lane, turn on your emergency flashers, and drive to the nearest tire repair center. Avoid driving long distances and do not exceed speeds of 50 MPH. Spare tires should only be used in the event of an emergency to get to a repair shop, not driven for extended periods. Continuing to drive on a spare could wear out full-sized tires or disturb the alignment.

As part of the Sun Devil Auto Oil Change, our technicians include tire rotation, if necessary, in addition to the lube, oil, filter, top off of fluids, and multi-point inspection. Not time for an oil change but think your tires might be low? Stop on by any of our Metro-Phoenix locations and our friendly technicians will check and set the pressures for you. Auto care is easy when you choose Sun Devil Auto from tire care to major repairs, we’re here to help! Stop by any of our service centers today.